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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  October 5, 2010 2:00am-6:00am EDT

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to be a senator? >> thank you for the question. i would also like to welcome our audience here and the audience at watching at home. in this election, it is about very clear choices in different philosophies. you have my opponent who has been in government all of his life. he is about growing government. i am about growing the economy. he is about raising taxes. i want our money to stay in the hands of our families. when mr. blumenthal is talking
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about middle-class tax cuts, that is just not true and he knows it. but i do not want is to raise taxes on anyone. if we raise taxes on small businesses, we are absolutely going to cramp not only their growth, but it will impact the middle class. let's not raise taxes on anyone. we have to focus on making sure that small businesses that create 70% of the jobs in this country will have the ability to grow and to create jobs. if we handcuffed them and continue to suppress our economy, we will not get our economy back on track. the government does not know how to create jobs. we have to let small businesses create jobs. that is what i will bring to washington with my business experience. >> mr. blumenthal, you have 30 seconds to respond. >> people create jobs. small businesses create jobs. 70% of all new jobs are created
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by small business. my plan would aid small businesses in creating jobs by targeting those tax cuts to small businesses, tax cuts for new hires, payroll tax extensions, startup costs to be deducted. doing this without holding hostage a middle income tax cut to the wealthiest 2%. i would vote immediately for a middle-class tax cut. >> but he keeps saying middle- class tax cuts. i think that we should not raise taxes on anyone. what would happen under mr. blumenthal's plan is $7.5 billion will go to washington so that they can spend it. i am for keeping it here. i do not want to send it to washington. let's hang on to our own money. let's not raise taxes on anyone. we are in a recession.
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let's make sure that small businesses have the opportunity to grow and that they can create those jobs. >> over the last few weeks, connecticut voters have seen you attack each other on the airwaves. many times. we wanted to ask questions related to those ads. here is ms. perez. >> on friday, the blumenthal campaign released its latest ad. let's take a look at it. >> linda mcmahon is everywhere, but will she be there for you? >> she took $2 million from the state to create jobs but fired 10% of her workers. her business is under investigation for failing to pay social security, medicare tax. now she is talking about lowering the minimum wage. >> i am guessing that you would take umbrage of the description of your business that way. >> first, that is absolutely false and incorrect.
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i would consider reducing the minimum wage. and that is a lie. you know that is a lie. i never said it. so let's take that off the table. mr. blumenthal and i actually share the same thought relative to raising the minimum wage. we need to take a look at it. he knows that is wrong. i never said that in an interview, but it made it into the advertising or pork. as to the fact that the w w e has at tax incentives? it does. i continue to say that small businesses should get tax incentives so that they can grow. over the course of the last 28 years, wwe has grown by about 20 jobs a year. we need more of that in washington. we need people who know how to create jobs.
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we need people that are experienced. i have been bankrupt. i have come back from bankruptcy. i had an opportunity to chase the american dream in this country and to grow and to experience what a lot of folks are experiencing now. mr. blumenthal does not have that experience. he has been on the government payroll all his life. >> mr. blumenthal, the mcmann team started running a new ad about you. >> we have learned something very important since the days i served in vietnam. >> when we returned, we thought nothing of this gratitude to recover one line with another. >> do you regret not more fully
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explaining why you made those misstatements and wine didn't you serve in vietnam? >> let me say again, as i have said before, there is nothing new in this ad and there is nothing new about the myth man attack on me. she spent millions of dollars on it and everybody knows it because they have been seeing it in their mailboxes. as i said before, i am proud of my military service. on a few occasions, out of hundreds, when i commented on it, i described it inaccurately and i regret it. i take full responsibility for it. it was not intentional. but that is no excuse. i want to say that i am sorry, especially to our veterans and most especially to the veterans of vietnam. i continue to fight for veterans and i will champion their cause for over 20 years. i take accountability for my
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mistakes. my opponent has not done so. she took $10 million to create jobs and then laid off 10% of for work force and took home $46 million. when she was asked by reporters about minimum wage and whether to cut it, she said that she would have to look at it. i would never say such a thing. my answer would have been no, absolutely not. we will not cut minimum wage. people are struggling economically in our state and our nation. have 30 seconds. >> mr. blumenthal knows very well the one i was talking about taking a look at it, it was rolled to an increase in minimum wage. i will not stand for his mischaracterization of that. if mr. blumenthal understood about how business works, you would know that tax incentives
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are not $10 million. once you have made an investment, once you have laid out that money, you get credit for reducing your tax liability. i did not take $10 million from the state. if you knew anything about business, you would know that. >> i know more about business than ms. mcmahon may think. having been in my job for 20 years and enforcing the law against businesses as well as others, i know that when you take tax credits to create jobs and then you cut your work force, and take home $46 million, something is wrong with this picture of a job creator. that is what conn once, someone who will keep promises and the people of all profits. but the people of connecticut above profit. >> our next question is from chris. >> the biggest issue of the year is the struggling economy. we would like to ask you both
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about that. mr. blumenthal, as you said, you would make middle-class tax cuts. washington has decided to postpone any votes on tax cuts until after the elections. was that decision by the democrat leaders are wrong? >> i believe that we should have voted -- be congress should have voted right away before going home. i would have preferred to have that boat sooner rather than later because on middle income families, they are struggling. we need not only middle income tax cuts now, without waiting for the wealthiest 2% to receive tax cuts as my opponent has said we should, but also programs that build small businesses and provide them with the capital that they need to expand. we need better trade policies so that we can export more from connecticut. my opponent has taken the
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position that those middle income tax cuts should be held hostage. i believe that tax cuts should go to those small businesses because they need them. we should be supporting small businesses by targeting the benefits that we think that they reserve. so they can't deserve -- they can protect the jobs that they need in our state and our country we need to preserve the minimum wage. my opponent should make a promise to preserve social security and make sure that we keep our promises to preserve medicare benefits at their present level. my party says that is not a profit for the campaign trail. i think it is. i make that pledge to reflect with two percent unemployment, more and more workers are being
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forced into minimum-wage jobs. he said that you have been mischaracterized. can you tell us what your position is on the minimum wage and what will does that play in getting the economy back on track? >> i would never advocate reducing the minimum wage. i said that we would take a look at whether or not we need to increase the minimum wage. i am not sure how long legislation would be increased, but i think that we need to look at it and make sure it is in the right economic frame. we should not reduce it. i want to take that off the table. i have to go back to something that mr. blumenthal said. he keeps talking about these tax incentives creating jobs.
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we were able to grow because it made the company's stronger. next year, because of the restructuring that was done and the smart business that was done relative to w w e -- wwe, that was really tough to do, but sometimes you have to make those tough decisions in order for your company to move forward. wwe is about the same level it was before the layoffs in 2009. we will add about 100 to 140 employees next year. >> the record will show that when my point was asked if she would cut the minimum wage, she said that she would have to look at it. the record will show that that is so.
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i would say absolutely not. i am glad to hear that the wwe is hiring now that we are in good times after she left the company, but in tough times, 10 percent of the work force were let off. she continues to send jobs overseas. >> mr. blumenthal, i will not let you can -- on or not talk about the fact that your -- your family owns the empire state building. we look for every instance to create jobs. i am proud of the digital media growth that will happen next year, which has been on the drawing board for a couple of years. >> the next question is about the stimulus package. ms. mcmahon, you talk about your
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opposition to the stimulus. you said that it is too expensive and special interest driven. you also say that it is one of the reasons that this country is a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. if that passed, it would require either a huge spending cuts for massive tax increases and possibly both. can you name to specific programs he would cut out site of attacking fraud in various agencies. what specific taxes would to increase? >> what is say that i think the stimulus did not work. the money never got into the hands of the private sector. government group. private sector jobs went down. the stimulus was supposed to prevent unemployment from going above 8%.
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it is above 9.5% and is just about that high here in the state of connecticut. i want to be sure and be clear that the stimulus money does not work. what we really need to do is to take the balance of the unspent stimulus money and pay down our debt. we are spending $1 billion a day to pay for our debt. i think that the stimulus money also was ordered to create a lot of infrastructure jobs.
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to communities across the u.s. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> our next speakers, i think, are miked up. i hope the mikes work better than they did in the previous session.
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and we're also, because of the precision of our recording that we're trying to achieve, we won't be passing the audience microphones. we'll keep them in the stands, and when you pose your questions, we'll ask you to go to the microphones in the corridor. i want to now introduce dr. nafisi and our moderator, michael derder. the doctor is an author and scholar. we all know her because of the book. we love it so much, reading loc lolitta in tehran. and a book columnist for the "washington post." without further ado, please join me in welcoming our next speakers. [ applause ]
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>> thank you. before we go any further, can you hear me all right? is this good? how about in the back? people signal wildly if you can't. why don't you try your mike as well. >> can you hear me? can you hear me now? >> thank you all for coming to listen in on our conversation about cultural diplomacy. first of all, i want to start off by asking what she was doing in minnesota. i e-mailed her and she said she was in minnesota giving a talk. what were you talking about? >> i'm sorry, i was sort of making signs with dana. i can take this off? sorry. >> now no one will know who you are. >> much better for me, huh?
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>> cover your travels. >> yes. >> anyway, you were in minnesota giving a talk. what were you talking about? >> minnesota, i was talking about who -- [ inaudible ]. in minnesota, i was talking about who is going to bail out imagination and thought. >> what do you mean bail out imagination? >> bailout is the trendy word to use. this is a time when even sachs fifth avenue asks for a bailout. and yet how much attention are we paying to the attitude, perception, the pattern that makes this country move forward. i don't think that we're in an economic crisis, i think we're really living in a crisis of vision. and the economic crisis is part of that. and so we the people have to
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have a national conversation about it. >> this conference is about cultural diplomacy. what is cultural diplomacy mean to you? >> well, you know, sometimes i think culture and diplomacy don't really exactly go hand in hand. because a culture essentially means seeing the world through the alternative eyes. seeing the world, even seeing yourself and questioning yourself the way you have never seen yourself, or questioned yourself. diplomacy sometimes is all about, you know, trying to see yourself in the conventional way. so it's a contradiction in terms. but it's a very necessary contradiction in terms. i think that real cultural diplomacy means two things simultaneously. one, curiosity. you need to be curious about the
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others. you know, in a genuine way, and not just pay lip service. and at the same time, offer something that makes other people feel curious about you. and want to know about you. and once you have that curiosity, then you have what the chairman was talking about, which is the ability to put on someone else's shoes and walk around in them. which is a cultural diplomacy from my point of view. from my point of view, it's a simultaneous occurring of philosophy and empathy and connection to the other as well as the other insight. >> there seems to me to be a kind of tension in the idea of cultural diplomacy. between what we would call a desire to perhaps americanize the world, as opposed to looking for, seeking a more cosmopolitan global notion of culture and
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citizenship. do you feel that yourself? you've grown up in iran. you now live in america. you regard yourself as an iranian, an american, a ruthless cosmopolitan as they used to say back in the '30s? >> as a writer, i consider myself sort of homeless in a way. we talked about the writer always being the stranger. you need to be the stranger. and i always remember what theodore eleanor talked about the highest form of morality is not to feel at home in your own home. not to feel too smug. not to feel too much at home. having said that, i was uprooted many times in my life, beginning at the age of 13. and being uprooted, leaving everything that you call home, it is full of anguish and pain. it is a kind of anguish and pain and longing that you feel about
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your first love. that you constantly, constantly try to retrieve, you know. it's always within your reach and not, you know? but what i learned at that age even was that the only way i can have a home is through this portable home of the united nations. the only way i can have a home that's neither tyrannical governments nor war nor revolution nor a flood nor a tornado can take away from me is to create a home out of my imagination, that is based on preservation of memory. and at the same time carrying the best that the home offers. and so the world in a sense becomes your home. >> i grew up in a working class family in ohio. my desire was not to feel not at home, but to feel at home in the world, no matter where i might find myself. but it would not be provincial.
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it would not just be a kid from ohio, but that i could travel, mix with people in different cultures, and feel at ease to some degree. it seems to me that cultural diplomacy is a lot about what andre used to say, the museum without walls. that is, we should expand our horizons. we should read more widely, more deeply. is in fact in some ways the failure of american diplomacy, at least cultural diplomacy, is that people aren't reading enough? aren't reading deeply and widely enough? i mean, how many people in this room know anything about persian literature. you don't have to answer that. i mean -- >> that's one reason i'm here. because he does. >> would you -- >> you do. >> thank you. but that's a good point. you wrote reading lolita in tehran. should we have a book called, you know, reading the blind owl
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in washington, d.c.? this is a great -- >> definitely. >> -- modern novel. >> definitely. you should have asked this question, because i might never shut up. so please do, you know, control me. there are two aspects to this. when you talked about your childhood, you know, i immediately remembered one of my most favorite books that is -- you know, someone this morning, was it sidney harmon, someone talked about maxwell. and i immediately was thinking of sherwood. i think both of them should be celebrated in a place like this. but, you know, from very early childhood, i learned, and i talk about it in my recent book, i learned that, you know, we live in the realm of the real.
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and in that realm, there's very little that we can control. we don't control what country we're born in. we don't control even what name we're given, what language we first speak. but there is that other realm which is the realm of the imagination which you do two things. one, you have control. because you talk about reality, and you read about reality from the perspective other than the one that is, quote unquote, imposed on you. but at the same time i learned my father used to bring me -- make me visit the world first to this imaginary maps. imaginary maps, imaginary guides which were books. i first discovered about iran through my father telling me stories by our great epic poet who, by the way, the year 2010 is his 1,000-year birthday.
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and what he did, iran was invaded by the arabs in the seventh century. and 11th century there was an amazing revival of iranian culture and poetry. he wrote the mythology, the 3,000-year mythology of iran. so a sense of our history. my father always used to tell my brother and i this is an ancient country and it's been invaded so many times, but what gives it continuity. what makes us iranians is our culture. that is -- that was interesting. and then he had no prejudices. and like some of our academics today, you know, if you are a woman who was born in a muslim majority country, and of course, if you're a woman, you can't tell it, as soon as you come here, they tell you three things. you're lucky, you're coming here at a good time because you're a
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woman, you can go into woman studies and you can, you know, write about middle east and islam. no, i said you go into women studies and write about middle east and islam. i want to write about dead white men. because the whole idea of equality, the whole idea of equality is based on the ability for us as the other to speak to one another, off one another, and about one another. and not be categorized. because this republic where my father showed me at the beginning, it was composed of pinocchio, we had the little prince, we had that little tom sawyer who i learned to discard after i discovered huck. we had hans christian andersen. it was a republic of imagination that transcended the boundaries
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of nationality, religion and race. we need such republic licks. we need to be able to will transcend our little nooks and crannies that we create for one another. so these were the two things that i learned, that the world is my home once i start reading rablay, once i read donte, and once i come to phillips, i forgot to tell you the added bonus to coming to this meeting was coming to phillips museum. i wrote a great deal of books here at phillips. i would go to the cafeteria up there. it used to be a very small one downstairs, which was very difficult to work in. but now it's some wonderful, wonderful cafeteria. i would go up, take a look at my favorite paintings, come down,
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write, go up, take a look again, and the only complaint i have against "washington post" is that at the section -- >> you have a complaint against the "washington post"? >> definitely against "washington post," a few one is the closing down of the bookworm. it was one of the most tragic. it was -- you know, that was what gave me a sense of community. i got to know you and all of your colleagues. not because i knew you, but because i knew that something is waiting for me during the weekends. and i feel very deprived, you know. >> well, that said, we all regret the loss of bookworm. as much as anyone. there are many books in washington. the paper does believe in the importance of literature as it does in art, music, and the coverage of culture in general.
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so it does exist. >> i appreciate it. i think sidney should take over the bookworm. and you know, give it back to us. >> are you listening? >> bring it back to us, you know. it's all fine with you. but what about the nation's capital. let's bring culture to this capital. it's not all about the superstar politicians. i don't know how many are in this. but with phillips, the only complaint i had against the "washington post" is when they did a profile for my recent book, "things i've been silent about," which was great, i loved the interview, i asked them to do the photograph in my favorite places, that gave me something. and we came to phillips. they generously guided us and gave of their time. and "washington post" did not write that this was at phillips museum. that was the most important part of that photograph.
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not me, but the staircase at phillips. so i want to rectify that. >> i will sing phillips' praises as well. because the museum is being renovated. the greatest paintings and works are here because of the phillips generosity. now that we've said enough about phillips, do you feel that then cultural diplomacy is simply a form of comparative literature that we should all be reading a more globally from the cultures of various countries, and that that will develop simply through the experience of reading, understanding, tolerance, sympathy for cultures and people of different backgrounds? is that the way? >> well, you know, first of all, cultural diplomacy is something i do believe in very, very
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deeply. we cannot pay lip service. what is happening about this whole "i feel your pain" thing about other cultures, the sentimental way of looking at them is very dangerous. we have -- i mean, literature is all about truth. and truth is always about taking a risk. it's like that little girl alice, you jump down the hole without asking any questions. and we have to jump down that hole. our dialog with others should not be paying lip service to them, using them as children almost, or, you know, you have a beautiful culture. but genuinely understanding the culture. and you understand it only by going to its art and music and food and literature, you know. let me give you an example about iran. i came here in 1997.
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i came from a society where the regime had taken away -- it either killed people or killed them by taking away their history. their sense of identity. monopolizing their culture, taking away their voices. so for me coming here was, you know -- i could express myself freely, become myself again. what do i find out that there are two camps usually. there are people who really understand culture in either of these camps. there are two camps. but their attitude is the same. first, they reduce all these amazing countries, that from 1979, had their particular identity and names. will you in literature know how important it is to give every single entity its name.
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so countries as different historically, traditionally, culturally, politically, as afghanistan, iran, turkey, indonesia, malaysia, saudi arabia. the first disrespect we showed towards them culturally was to take on the language of the rulers and the extremists and call them the muslim world. there is no such thing, the bad and good news, there is no such thing as the muslim world. it is an entity that exists in the minds of those who like to not look at the truth, because truth is complicated, who like to simplify. because if you call it the muslim world, then where do you go from there. either it's a good world, or it's their culture, you know? whatever they do over there, that is terrible. it's their culture. and we should not impose our culture on them.
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or it's a terrible one. and we should do away with them. muslims are all -- islam really never gave anything to us. now, if you read through the alternative eyes of the great literature, arab and turkish and, you know, persian literature, and the history, you discov discover -- there's a wonderful new book cleopatra that people in egypt, it was alexandria. iran was persia. these cultures have changed. and islam has mixed and mingled with the greatest philosophers and poets, who came out of the post-islamic culture. and if you knew iran through its poets, what you would know was that 1,000 years ago, not just
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ferdoesy, but another great poet wrote this amazing love poem, which is basically written that iran was a country before the invasion. it is one of the most erotic and subversive books that you can read on love. women in ferdoesi are some of the most independent minded and sensual women whom not only choose whom they marry, but who they love. of in this poetry is a way of communion with god.
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750 years ago, they mentioned flogging people in public and drinking wine in private. so i as a woman want to go back to culture, do i think that i need to be independent because i have read a few books by western feminists? bloody hell no. i go to my own culture. the egyptians go to cleopatra. they go to these amazing women at the turn of the century. in egypt, in lebanon, in iraq, in iran, in turkey, who said we want to be free. ten minutes. sorry. michael, you should stop me. what i'm saying is if you want to understand our culture, you have to go and do serious work to understand that culture. and once you understand it, the
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amazing thing is not how different we are, but how alike we are. it is the literature, it's the shock of recognition that shakespeare said ask the questi question, if you prick us, do we not bleed. that's how i want cultural diplomacy to be done. i talked to the u.s. embassy in spain, actually, sponsored my program for my recent book in madrid. and that was the kind of talk we had. and you have to remember that when you go to spain, or when you go to saudi arabia, or iran or afghanistan or you go to france, you have to have a sense of their culture. you have to remember spain not only produced don ki hoet day, but that is the whole point to generally immerse yourself in who that other is. >> it does seem to me, however,
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one of the great changes over the last 50 years, in literature, that americans, the world, too, to some degree, are reading more globally. who are our best-selling writers. there are rushte and moracami, and any number of other people from, you know -- steve larsen. we are no longer bound only by kind of nationalism in our sense of american literature. but i think sometimes the world looks at america and reduces it just as we might look at the muslim world, whereas american culture, american literature is there as the countries that you describe, that we are not just girls gone wild. you know, that's not our culture. we have a lot of variety here.
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which is what has troubled me in some ways when we think about people criticizing the more sort of overt exploitation of american culture. what is american culture. american culture is a lot of different things. >> yes. i'm so, so grateful that you brought this point up. first of all, i think americans should start understanding, we need a cultural diplomacy for inside america. you know, americans should understand their culture. now, let me say something, michael, as an immigrant. i just became a citizen in 2008 and i definitely did not come to this country to fill up my pockets, or to train my children so they all go to wall street and be happy ever after -- live happy everly after. this is one of the most poetic countries in the world where it's declaration of independence ends with pursuit of happiness. i mean, that is why people
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genuinely, even that's, quote unquote, illegal immigrants comes here, because deep down there's this passion, and this desire for me. and what i discovered here is that because now that passion is not being replaced by -- is being dominated by something very shallow, politicalization. but in fact, it's utilitarian when we ask stupid questions like, who needs the art museum. you know, why should the congress pay for them. and the congressman who says that, he smiles coyly and says, i am in fact on the side of the workers. i have not seen many of his kind coming to national galleries, you know. who does he think crowds the museums? every book festival, the book
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festival here on the mall, who are the people who come here? not even the academia, the elite, it is the people. and we need to appreciate our own culture in order to be able to communicate it to the world. and i agree with you, that reductionism of good and evil that exists among the right and the left, and exists among the elite, not just in this country, but has gone viral and is global, that attitude is what you and i should fight against. that is why i am going to the jon stewart rally. i am. [ applause ] and, you know, i'm not a new-fangled fan and i'm not a fan anyway. but i started thinking about this before -- in 2000. because he sees the world through the alternative yifs. and i think we need to do that.
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>> sometimes diplomacy in the largest sense looks at the world in almost a trans actional way. we'll give you this, we want something back in turn. i think we need to simply share in the riches of the world's art, culture and literature, and rejoice that these things are now available to us. that we have the means to read books from other nations through translation, that we can watch move i was from around the world, that we can visit and see art from every culture and every period in our art museum. these are things that enrich us, that humanize us. >> you're right. may i say one last thing. a lot of people come and tell me what can we do for iran. and to quote a great president, don't ask for what you can do for iran, but what iran has done for you. and i mean it.
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young people in iran are being accused and put to jail and even murdered because they want democracy. they think that america has, which is the best weapon, is without paying lip service to it, a culture of democracy. it's this democratic imagination. one of the reformists in the recent trials had to come and confess that max webber corrupted him. reading max webber is not only censured, but dangerous. you see, violence knows what threatens them. it's not weapons that threatens them, it is a mind-set that the people, the children are taking. so if our young people back home are fed up, they were treating
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the young like the rock stars. you know, if people over there are ready to risk everything they have, to read all these authors, we should understand that every day of our life we have to fight for this gift that is given to us from the countries that are fighting for the same things we fought for, you know. >> i like to think of north of prague, a recent critic said the function of education is to make one feel maladjusted to ordinary society. >> yes. >> it goes with your idea of not being at home. you want to question, feel uncomfortable, not be smug and provincial and think that you alone have the truth. >> that is the whole point. and i think that is why our
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academia -- our liberal arts are so underfunded. actually, we're going to have a symposium on that. the whole point on that is, where do you go to re-discover the meaning. you go to humanities, and to liberal arts. and that is one of the things i'm very scared about today. even women talk about education. we're not talking about the content of education. i'm so happy that bill and melinda gates when they said on "60 minutes" that they are paying so much money for education, and they are wonderful people, but who is going to take care of the attitudes? this black and white attitude where literature and arts has become a hand maiden to politics. i have been called all sorts of names just because i talk about
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it. and if i do, i'm empowering american imperialism. this is so preposterous. yet it comes to us as a new thought, you know. >> it's just part of what the -- what some people felt was kind of increasing shallowness in our young people. often the internet is blamed. often the various media which encourages, you know, quick searches for answers rather than the kind of slow attentive focus on the texts, interaction which is true reading that leads to understanding, and the kind of wisdom that you're talking about. that if we're going to think about culture, we need to really engage more fully with this than we do. >> you are very right. our enemy is not our political opponents. it is our attitude. i think imaginative knowledge is
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not just something that you need today and discard tomorrow. it is a way of perceiving the world, relating to the world and changing it. and you, i think, said the most important thing, that no one should feel smug. this theory is about literature. we should not impose theories on literature. literature is like life. you drive from the experience of reading, something new. i don't want to reveal my age, most probably you can see it anyway, but when i was going to college in the '70s, reading lionel or edmond winston, it was a new experience. it wasn't theorizing the work and demolishing it, but encountering the world the way you encounter life. and that's what makes you uncomfortable because life is complicated. i hope we go back to complex thinking. which is fun. it is really fun. >> i see that i've ignored our
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sign when i was supposed to ask a question. we just got rattling on. >> i'm so sorry. >> but before we actually end, as you said, persian literature is rich in poetry. can you recite a few lines of persian poetry for us? >> i -- >> i've put you on the spot. >> which one do i choose. they're both amazingly impossible with words, which i love. [ speaking foreign language ♪ ♪ ] >> basically he said you go against the flow to be able to survive. i think it's a good ending to what you were talking about, mot feeling at home. >> thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ]
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>> we're trying to keep on track with this very ambitious schedule. and we'll hopefully have time for questions over lunch with dr. nafisi. now, i have -- this is -- i'm multitasking because i'll be introducing myself as moderator and being miked up. it is my great pleasure to introduce our next speaker. the internationally acclaimed artist, painter, eric fishel who agreed to join us today. you know me by now, i'm the director of the phillips collection. eager to have this opportunity to talk with my dear friend and colleague, eric fishel.
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>> how about now? great. anyway, i can make my commentary now. if i get too loud, and it
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screeches, you'll all be very cross with me. i love the ideas that came out in the last discussion. have a seat, eric. put your mike on. this idea of crisis of imagination and vision. but the one thing that we keep coming back to, it seems to me, is the importance of precision of language. one of the projects that alfredo jarr presented to us yesterday was his project on times square, which was about america, and the real gist of that project, which in the newspapers, caused a lot of controversy was the idea that we -- the people of the united states have appropriated america much to the disadvantage and perplexed reaction of the people of the americas, of the rest of the continent. but anyway, did you hear when
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dr. nafisi gave us our clue when she said what we need is cultural diplomacy inside america. i thought, thank you so very much. because that's -- when dana joya came to us with this beautiful opportunity to collaborate with the aspen institute, i couldn't help but think of your project, america now and here. and then i want to also have time to turn to eric as a practitioner, as an artist for that very special perspective. it was very important for us to have elizabeth dillard here, to have eric fishel, because we want to hear the authentic voices of the visual artist. so let's start off with telling us a little bit about this ambitious project of cultural diplomacy within our borders. >> okay. am i miked? okay. first let me say i hate
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following writers. they are so articulate. that was a great thought you just gave. very inspiring. i've been working on a project that dorothy referred to called "america now and here." and it's a project i started a few years ago. and it was an attempt to try to use art, the language and experience of art as a way of redirecting the conversations we have with ourselves in this country about who we are. and what i did was i felt that america was suffering an
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identity crisis, that events over the last many years had thrown us off our center. and 9/11 was a catalytic event that confirmed that sort of spin off of our center. and threw us into a kind of world of fear and uncertainty, self-doubt, et cetera. and that the country was becoming more polarized, more tribal. and, you know, losing what our foundations are. i thought because it's a national crisis, we should turn to america's greatest artists,
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poets, playrights, filmmakers, et cetera, turn to the people that are generally recognized as the leaders of our cultural life. and ask them if they would create a work of art specifically about america. i said make it something post-9/11. something that reflects on where we are using 9/11 as one of the markers. i said it didn't have to be about 9/11, it was just, where would you like us to think ab t about, experience, re-examine, et cetera, america today. i actually -- when i started out, i was just asking visual artists. and it grew over a period of time to include the other art. and the idea was that we would take this art and we would put
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it into trucks. specially designed trucks that would become mobile museums. we would travel them around the country, going to small towns, to mid-sized cities, the military bases, state colleges, inner cities, et cetera, and try to engage a population of the society that is -- either doesn't use art as part of its daily life, or disaffected by it, or alienated from it some way or another, economically, socially, geographically. and that what we would do is try to go into those communities and engage the creativity within those communities to respond to the work and the programs that
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are in the exhibition. so that we would create a creative dialog. something that would bring local perspective onto a national stage. so we've been doing that. the artists responded surprisingly quickly, emphatically. i say surprisingly, because we're -- you know, modernism has moved so much into a kind of culture of individuality. and the idea of sort of commission, the idea of sharing or collective response and stuff, is relatively alien to that culture. so at first i thought i would meet with a lot of resistance,
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especially from the sort of superstars. but instead i was, you know, incredibly surprised that they were all saying, yes, let's do this. this is great. >> did you demand -- >> these aren't clean glasses. i'm going to drink out of the bottle. >> i thought of that earlier. every detail counts. but good thinking. take a bottle. did you demand from the artists that they adhere a type of iconography? i noticed the american flag. when you said that we were having a crisis of identity, could your project be accused or misconstrued as something sort of patriotic? is that what you intend? >> you know, first of all, you don't go to the great artists and say, do this, and it's got to be like this, this, this and this. and please put a lot of green in
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it senior og like that. a lot of green in it or something like that. i went to them to ask them, for them to give me what they wanted to give me. knowing that it would be a crap shoot. you know, that it could have come back as, you know, very confrontational. very politicized. overly intellectual. you know, all of the things that are in contemporary art that certainly have been part of it. i didn't preconceive schematics for it. i left it open, let it sift back to me to see if it would be self-organizing. and i was really surprised and delighted to see that one incredible generosity of spirit on the part of the artists, that
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it wasn't confrontational, in a simplistic sense, that it was -- that it wasn't provocative in a sensational sense, that it was stimulating, sensitized. i also was amazed, and frankly, relieved to see that there was a self-organizing thing that was taking place, which was -- it seemed like artists fell into categories of america as an iconic place. iconic reality. >> can we look at some of the images while we're talking? >> i'd actually like to just say something briefly about this. but let me do this first. the second theme seemed to be about america as plate.
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and that was a sense of a place within a landscape, region, a sense of a place as home. and the third was america as people. it was a focus on identity. it was a focus on diversity. it was a focus on family, or friendships, community, that kind of bond. and these themes were sufficiently broad enough to include a tremendous variety of approach. this first one, jasper johns, it's a print that he gave to us that seemed absolutely appropriate. certainly fit into the category of america, iconic. what i found so poignant about it, that it's -- initially you see it as a jasper johns iconic
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image. which he's done for -- since the '50s. using the image of the american flag as a painting motif, as an iconic motif, et cetera. what's different about this one than other ones he's done in his past is he's added a flag pole. which i don't know how well you can see it here, but there's a very delicate line drawn that anchors the flag to this orange field. and it both seemed to evoke for me that image of the american flag planted on the moon, which was one of our triumphs. and also, there was such a kind of vulnerability to that heroic act, when you see that small
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flag in the vastness of space. and he kind of recalls that in this. but at the same time, he's also saying that that america needs to be anchored. that he no longer feels the confidence that he had in his past work, and had to ground it some way. so there's a tremendous, you know, contemporary vulnerability that he's expressing in this. and i think that's a poignant image. >> how do you think this project would translate -- obviously i'm jumping the gun. it has not yet even hit the road here in america. but how would it translate abroad do you think? >> you know, let >> let me just say something. you were talking about patriotism. it's interest iing that as this
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show becomes more and more known and people respond to it in terms of -- the project becomes more known, some people view it as patriotism that has a pejorative aspect to it because it employs nationalism, takes us down the road to fascism, et cetera, et cetera. that's patriotism with a big "p" or something like that. but at the same time this is such an embrace, such an outreach from the community towards what we all consider home that you have to see it as patriotic in the small sense of it. were this show to go abroad it's toward cultural imperialism.
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that's the tight rope one would walk would be that we would be trying to go out and convince other cultures of something about ourselves without engaging the other cultures in response. right? the only way i think this would be successful outside of this country is if we established it as a way of getting other perspectives to comment on their sense of what america is within the creative language that's been established. then i think it would be a very important program. >> you articulated very important and lofty goals. there was a good article in "the nation" that i was looking at last week. you talked about -- and i am assuming this is your fundamental goal. you talked about creativity as a form of literacy.
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so the idea of the art is coming together and jumping over the sort of isolation of the individual practice to partake, but also what are you imagining will happen in terms of the communities that you go to? you're going to have other poets and musicians and -- >> yeah. let me -- as this program exp d expanded to include these other arts, the one thing that struck me was that the poets, pl playwrights, musicians all wanted to be seen as the arts. they didn't want us to go to a town and the movies go to the art house, the poets to the library, the playwrights' little
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plays go to the theater, et cetera. they wanted the trailer to be inclusive of all the arts and have them working together simultaneously which is an interesting problem. the poets did something historical. first of all, they came up with a way of participatinparticipat based on the renga, a japanese conversational form of poetry. our poet's idea was to begin the poem and then give it to the next poet who would respond and rather than go back to the first, it would continue. and 54 of america's greatest poets, poet laureates mcarthur winners, et cetera, have
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collectively created an epic american poem. i think probably the first time in history that they have done that, certainly on that scale. 540 lines. it starts with robert pinsky who was ready to go. we had to schedule the poets. we gave them three days to write ten lines. i don't know if you have ever tried to get poets to do anything. [ laughter ] >> but herding cats doesn't even describe it. >> a question from dana on that one, i think. >> by the way, dana was invited but unfortunately there was a conflict. he was the head of the n.e.a. at the time. we were hoping to get his voice in there. anyway, the renga started with pinsky who happened to be in massachusetts on the atlantic
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coast. he begins the poem and then it moves all around. 540 lines later, robert haas is looking out over the pacific. so that, in and of itself is an american epic journey. that embraces the whole country. it's really quite extraordinary. and the playwrights came up with a really ingenious thing, too, which is that they invited -- i should say first of all carol dukes and bob holman were the poets who cue rated the renga. marcia nor madonna and john baits came up with a form for the playwrights to invite playwrights to write three-minute dialogues that would be performed unannounced in the exhibition like
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conversations overheard and wherever we went we'd pick up local actors to do these plays in a kind of random fashion when they felt the room was ripe enough for a good audience. so there's that. >> i want to get to you as a painter. if we flow through these images i'm hoping we come to your work. you sent us some paintings that were obviously inspired by a trip to india, i'm assuming. >> i'm going to talk about this painting first. i don't mean to ignore you, but i'm more wrapped up in the america project than i am in my own work. >> that is rare for an artist to say that. >> i know. first of all, we are talking about visual illiteracy and what you're all participating in now
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is something that absolutely leads to visual illiteracy. you are looking at a slide of a painting. not only at a slide of a painting but a slide of a painting in really crappy light. there is very little chance that the experience of this painting could ever bait you though in your minds, you have seen the painting. now this is something -- this kind of thing is pervasive in the future. we get pictures on our iphones, ipad, computers, et cetera, et cetera. we assume they are the same though they go from small to medium to large. it is the death of painting. painting is a somatic
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experience. when you stand in front of a painting, the painting puts your sense of your body into a specific relationship with the thing you are viewing. in doing that, it changes your interpretation of what you thought before you experienced the painting. this is a tool that painters use. i'm going to talk about this painting which is my wife's painting, april gornick which she did for the america show. i think it is incredibly poignant and hopefully when you see the real painting you will have the same sense of revelation that i had when i stood in front of it. it's a large painting, a grand scale painting.
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you're standing there, looking out at the ocean, looking to the far horizon and, of course, one thing you will notice is that you're standing absolutely at the edge of the ocean. right? she's put you at the edge of the ocean which is a boundary and you look out past the roiling waves to the calm horizon, to the distance. but you don't know when you're looking at this painting is whether you are looking east over the atlantic. if you are looking east over the atlantic you're looking to where we came from as a country. or you may be looking out over the pacific. if you're looking out over the pacific, you're looking west
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which means you're standing on the very edge of how far we've come. so within this one simple image she, too, has collapsed america into an incredibly poignant experience that puts the whole country into your sense of self. >> what's the response been? you said to me earlier -- >> terrible! >> you said you're struggling with fund-raising which is a terrain i'm familiar with. how is it going in terms of realizing this? >> we're actually doing well. we're going to launch the show in kansas city in april 12011. we haven't been able to raise enough money to fabricate the trucks yet. so we'll start without the trucks, finding interesting places within the cities to put the works, draw attention both
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to areas that the city wants to embrace, engage, focus on. we're going to do that for probably three of the stops. and then hopefully by then we'll have raised the remainder of the money for the trucks. the trucks are essential for mobility into areas like small towns, military bases. but also the area regions like the central valley in california which is one of the most complicated and, you know, shows up at the lowest end of all social indicators. it's an important area to engage in the conversation about america. so i don't know how many slides -- oh, this begins my
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work that dorothy asked me to put in. i guess because you want to talk about artists abroad or artists who paint broads. >> oh, gosh. [ laughter ] >> i'm stunned to have an artist on stage with me who, for the first time, is resisting talking about his work. i just think that's important for people to know your painting and also to hear a little bit about the impact. you talked extensively about the notion of home which runs a little bit counter to the notion of home that was floated in the previous conversation. i just wonder about the impact of your interaction with the broader world as an internationally renowned painter. >> well, i started off with this
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painting from southern france. here is another one. i started off with them because in the early '80s, i went to southern france as an american a bro broad. i came into a direct kind of confrontation with otherness in a way i hadn't anticipated which was the kind of hedonism, the kind of -- i can't say unself-conscious because they are very self-conscious about it, but very open about their self-consciousness about hedonism on the beaches of southern france. what i came in sort of direct confrontation with was my own
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puritanism. all of the issues around public and private in relationship to the body, in relationship to oh sensuality, eroticism, sexuality and whatnot came into focus. as i sat on the beaches watching people be naked and socially interactive. i became riveted by that and took a lot of photographs, went home and made my paintings and stuff. i was kind of feeling like, you know, i have done to southern france what david hokney did to l.a. you know, i named it. right? but when i showed the work to the french they thought these were paintings from long island. [ laughter ] >> you know, i'm going to be a
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good moderator because we denied our audience a q & a last time, i think i should open it up, if you don't mind. >> i don't mind. i'll thumb through these while we are being asked questions. >> when did you go to india? i'm sorry. if i ask a question he's going to talk. >> i went to india in 1987. i was invited by a family. i actually never had a fantasy, even when i was a hippie about india the way it was embraced by the hippies. i hated the smell of patchouli oil, et cetera. because of the way the family invited me i knew i would be taken care of. india terrified me because it seemed like pure chaos, which, in fact, it is. i didn't think i would go with a sense of -- that i would be inspired by it. i thought i would experience it.
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but it turned out it was the most extraordinary experience in relationship to otherness that i have ever encountered. as somebody who works with the body, for example, and i pride myself on the ability to read body language. i went to india and i could not tell anything. i couldn't tell whether this was a good situation, a bad situation. it was like signals that i had -- >> another language. >> another language, yeah. >> may i ask if anyone in the audience has questions for eric? there is a question. we'll ask you to get up and go to the microphone. >> thank you so much. it was so interesting.
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cynthia schneider from georgetown university. i am so curious about your america project. i wonder what you would consider -- what you hope to get out of it, what you hope will happen when you travel around the country. i wonder if any of the artists are going to travel with you. i also think it would be so interesting if you would collect in writing on the web -- and maybe you have done it -- why the artists wanted to do this because i don't think patriotism is a bad word. i think as the good thing. and the idea of artists doing something patriotic runs counter to, i think, the traditional american idea about artists. but other people outside america look to art as what embodies what america is. you know, for some strange reason, we don't do that. so i would love to hear what you
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hope this will accomplish and also how you decided to start in kansas city. >> the last question is the easiest to answer. that's where the money was. so actually kansas city is a perfect metaphor for what we are trying to do. if you fold the map this way and that way, kansas city is right in the middle of the fold. it's the center of the country. if you look at maps of trails blazed across the country to discovery, et cetera, et cetera, there is like two lines from the east coast to kansas city and a thousand from kansas. it was really a place that generated, sponsored and brought together the exploration and unification of this country.
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so it works on all those levels. also it's interesting in talking to the people in kansas city, we have been talking to -- they saw it as patriotic. they got excited about it because it was patriotic. but anyway, we are collecting in the show why these would be part of the website. we're doing a robust social media and web programming and stuff like that to try to be able to be inclusive as much as one can. obviously within the trucks we are limited to whatever the show is as it is now. so to get the local responses into the context of it we have to find other venues within the
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towns and upload this stuff so it intermingles that way on the internet. did i answer those questions? >> all right. i actually have to shoot out four questions. you don't have to answer them all. i work at the smithsonian. i'm struck and i have heard about the project through various colleagues. my first question is do you think art museums are failing across the united states? you're creating a container that's going to go and travel, too. you talked about the lack of visual literacy. for those of us who work in regional, small museums, i am a curator as well as an administrator, i must confess. the whole thing has been trying to tempt people to see the art museum like a library for visual ideas. i think the fact that this is coming from the artists gives you a kind of freedom that there is not sort of an obvious
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curatorial stance. i guess i'm asking what is the long-term goal or hope you hope will come out of this. you can have interventions and artists are fantastic about interventions. they are create sieive in the w they create this. art train has something to talk about containers. how will you connect with those places? i think the power you have is to validate the creativity going on. when you leave how is that going to continue? i just challenge you to think about the community involvement. at the smithsonian, this is something we deal with. thousands of people shuffle through. how does it connect with their lives? you have the capacity to do this and engage the regional institutions. >> all right. >> sorry about that. we think about this a lot here. >> first of all, a disclaimer.
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i'm not a curator. i did a shoutout to my peers to do this. it really iscurated show in the strict sense of the word. also, when i started to conceive this program it went against something that i had really believed in about art which is that it was important for people to make pilgrimages to great art. i think the pilgrimage is something that is social glue, a cultural glue -- sorry. i'll flip this a little faster. >> i'm just distracted. >> so on one hand i believe in that. certainly with work that's like
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painting and sculpture which are unique objects and you really can't experience them except in the presence of them, i think it is important for people to make the connection, the commitment to go see. here i am organizing an exhibition which is about us going to them. >> i'm not seeing chairs, tables. >> what are you saying? >> in your concept. i think it's so beautiful. you brought in poetry -- oh. you talk about containers. museums are containers. you're bringing containers. i'm struck by the diversity of disciplines which is kind of a theme here for awareness. i don't see sensitivity to other materials that embody that.
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>> you asked what we envisioned as the program and as a leave-behind. first of all, it went from being an immediate response to a crisis which had a particular the mat tick thing, post 9/11 up to now. in the process of organizing the thing we began to develop a sense that, in fact, this isn't a show. this is a program. so these trucks will roll out frequently, you know, every two, three years, whatever it is, with a fresh perspective on aspects of america, whether it goes out and it's about ecology or the design or different ways that we can approach looking at
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us. so oh it is an ongoing program -- >> not static. >> not a static one. and the other thing is that in terms of leave-be hihind -- and museums do this, too, but we are trying to make it happen. everything in the show is imitatable as a form and so what we are doing is we are going to get -- starting with school groups and then people -- you know, the arts community and nonartists to try to use those forms for expression as well. what we are looking for is that people come back to us with whatever perspective they have, but it has to be couched within a creative expression. when we pull out of town, that's
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what's left behind is somethinging that demystifies creativi creativity, that doesn't separate people so that only specialized people can do this thing, et cetera, but begins to see the acts as something that can be self-generated, shared, fun, silly, fabulous, et cetera, et cetera. >> this is great. i think we have run through our time. so i'm going to call this session to a halt. first of all, i want to thank you, eric. >> i'm sorry i talk so much. >> no! that's why we brought you here is to talk. [ applause ] >> i want to say that it's a great pleasure beinging with you and hearing you. we are going to break now for lunch. we'll reconvene as you have experienced promptly at 1:45.
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i think that's all i need to say. thank you very much for your attention this morning.
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>> i think it leans fairly republican. it does lean that way. to the republicans, it was a fluke that he lost. he lost only because of ethical issues and not because of a change in political thinking because the people in the district becoming more democratic.
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>> c-span's look a content vehicles are traveling the country as we look at some the most closely contested races. for more information on what the local content vehicles are up to, visit our web site c- >> you are watching public affairs programming on c-span. up next, candidates for ohio's u.s. senate seat debates health care and jobs. they will face each other in next month's election. in an hour, a debate with richard blumenthal and linda mcmahon. they are buying to replace chris dodd. but vying -- visinying to replae
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senator chris dodd. >> hour debate coverage continues tonight on c-span. we begin with an illinois governors debates. we will talk with florida representative of deadebbie wasserman shultz. then a debate for new hampshire second house district. >> this week, the supreme court begins its new term. you can learn more about the highest court was c-span's this book "the supreme court." it reveals the need insight
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about the court. it is available in hardcover wherever you buy books. it is also available as anyone e-book. >> now a debate between the highest u.s. senate candidates. lee fisher and former republican congressman the bill the candid bark looking to replace the senator. it takes place at a high school in toledo, ohio. this is about one hour. >> this is the ohio u.s. senate debate. >> tonight's debate. i'm your moderator. debate tonight. i like the formally introduce
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them alphabetically. have a newspapers make of the organization including the "toledo blade "the "cincinnati enquirer pull wel." both campaigns have agreed to the format of this debate. thank you for being here.
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eat canada will have two minutes to respond. the other will have one minute to rebut. the fisher won the tooling costs. -- won the coin toss. of ohio, washington, main street, wall street, export goods, export jobs. i begin because this is a very clear choice between someone who has traveled to ohio fighting for the people of ohio. and someone who spent the last 20 years fighting for special interests. and i have closed drug houses throughout our state. i have held struggling families get back on their feet.
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as lieutenant governor, i have been to every corner of the state in the middle of this unprecedented economic story. what about congress? you would never know it listening to it tonight. here is to the he is. he was a lobbyist. he is a congressman who supported the deregulation. u.s. george bush's trade adviser. he should jobs overseas. the washington post has described him as mr. washington but . take a look at to is for us. congressman portman has received more money than any republican candidate in the country from washington lobbyist.
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he is numbers 2 and wall street. he is on his way to being number one. he will be one of those who leads the fight to repeal wall street reform. i think it is time that congressman portman took responsibility for his role in helping cause this recession. he knows better. this is not a state recession. this is a natural recession. it is our term. >> thank you. >> mr. portman? >> thank you. thank you to the organizers for given the opportunity to give different visions. i chose to came to toledo to announce our campaign. this part of the state to often get left out. i have been back over a dozen times sent the biince.
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i have done this all over the great state. ohio has won a top-10 and implement rate in the country. we have lost some in the best and brightest young people. for the last four years, my opponent has been for lieutenant governor. it also been the governor of department of development appeared is responsible for creating jobs the. all of the things are a republican attacks. he will do it all night.
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he wants to distract us. the federal policies he is supporting. he is a strong supporter. he is not working for ohio. i am learning because i believe ohio and our country is heading in the wrong direction i believe there is a better way. there is a better way on health care and taxes and spending. they are helping getting private sector jobs that. i was born and raised in ohio. we need to turn things around in washington. >> a panel of questions now begin. >> in this campaign, you have been very critical of international free trade deals.
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during the most recent 12-month time come at a higher export trade top $20 billion. that is a 29% increase. within a protective trade policy reversed ohio's growing need as an export state? >> exports are good. as the director of development, i have work to promote exports. we have counseled many businesses right here in northwest ohio. we are helping them access the 13 different markets. the issue is not whether exporting goods is a good thing. the issue is whether we are exporting too many jobs and we are paying that price. when you have fair and balanced trade, you can do both. when you have a trade deficit, that means you are saying that we will -- there are job leading
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the state at a record number. that is not a price any of it should be willing to make. we are selling too little on where buying too much. it is an easy for parts solution. you increase your exports. you reduce your imports. you bring production back to america. i want more trade, not less. i was more exports, not less to give i wanted to be fair for de i wanted to be balanced. i do not one hard-working people that spent their lives in technology losing their jobs.
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>> mr. portman, you have one minute. >> to cannot have it both ways. lee fisher has decided to run an anti-ohio campaign the. ohio depend on exports. one out of every three is exported. we need to expand exports. he does not support the agreement. he has said it sees for helping companies to stay in america. he supports higher taxes. he supports the washington approach to higher regulation.
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this a make it more difficult for us to get jobs here. trainees to be fair. >> even those who believe free trade enriches the overall u.s. economy can see that certain sectors or individual communities can be decimated by foreign competition. what do you say to people who have lost jobs in foreign countries? what responsibility does the u.s. have to assist those people?
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i was the first person to see china. it worked. i have been here. i have done it. wean to expand exports. ohio is dependent on exports. exports pay more and have better but it. we cannot allow ourselves not to continue to give ohio workers and farmers those opportunities. sometimes trade has a destructive of fact. we need to make sure the government steps in and provide the training they need. high is 44th in the country under lee fisher. we need to coordinate and better prepare we are first in the
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country and getting workers the retraining they need. >> thank you. it is hard to look those men and women in the eye and say that there is the damage done we have free trade. 50,000 jobs have been lost because of nasa. because the trade with china, 100,000 jobs have been lost. think about this. at the end of the bush years, they are selling is 800 billion more dollars of stuff that we are selling them. that does not make any sense at all. the bottom line is that we can and we must do both when
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congressman porter was the trade adviser, he refused to put quotas on steel pipes despite the fact that manufacturers acton -- asked him to do it. his record is not what he says it is. >> the next question goes to the fisher. >> you were director of the ohio department of development. the unemployment rate declined. why should voters in this economy pick you? >> in the middle of a national economic storm, states had two choices. they can go down in the heads and prayed for a better day or they can do what the governor has done, take some risks in the front yard.
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whether it is good year for bridgestone or firestone, the list goes on and on. if you are unemployment and there are too many people unemployed, the unemployment rate is 10%. it is 100%. i know that. let's be honest about that. it is not a state recession. it is a national recession. only one state has received recognition for bringing in the most new jobs. not once, not twice, but three times. we were named in the six fastest-growing economy in the country. does that mean everything is good? of course not. a means we are working harder than other states. it means we are going down that field. we are not giving up.
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you want people leaving you. then go to the sidelines. they keep moving down the field. the go to some of those companies, we set them. we save 1000 jobs. to me people have not benefited from our word and our successors. that is why our work is never done. >> thank you. >> i think it is an insult to the incredible record to compare him to what happened in ohio. it does not been a successful game. we have been losing it. we lost 400,000 jobs. in the last year, we have lost
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companies. since the campaign began, for companies have left the toledo area to go to indiana. we are falling behind. these guys have not done the job. now he wants to take this to washington. i have been did some of these companies around the state. i have been to over 70 plants and factories in the last year and a half. they do not want higher taxes or health care costs. they do not want the card check. they want to be giving a pro- jobs approach. that is what i am offering. frothe to the governor fisher ds not deserve that promotion. >> the next question comes from cleveland. >> you were in congress as a budget director under george w.
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bush who's the frustration increased federal spending. now you are calling for less spending to control the deficit. why would you or any republicans have vulnerability on this issue? >> i've not is calling for less spending. i always called for less spending. i actually propose a balanced budget when i was budget director. it was the first balanced budget six years into the bush administration. they should have done it sooner. we also have the president vetoing spending bills. i spent the first letter to capitol hill. the spending that under control. we had a 50% reduction in the deficit when i was there. it was down to wanted $61 billion which i thought was too high. -- $261 billion which i thought was too high. we are looking a doubling the debt in five years of a tripling
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it in 10-years. this is unconscionable for our kids and grandchildren. we are mortgaging their futures. we need to stop the spending now. we need policies to get the economy moving. we need to look at the entitlement plans. every other person who has looked dennis says that -- look at this says that we need a bipartisan approach to entitlement spending to get our country back on the right path. these are all things that i will do that have the honor of representing ohio. >> we do agree the deficit in debt are out of control. his living out a little bit of history. when bill clinton left office, he can do with a bow a record
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surplus to george w. bush. why did george w. bush hanover to president obama? a record deficit of $1.30 trillion. what was that budget when he was the budget director? it was around $500 billion. >> no, it was not. >> that budget was closer to 500. when he was traded visor, the deficit ballooned to to wonder billion dollars. now what does he want to do? he tells us we are spending too much money. he was to give money to millionaires and billionaires. they are using the money to reduce the deficit and create jobs. that is not some fiscal discipline to me. >> he may have the opportunity.
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why is it a good idea to extend of a tax cut on to wealthy americans? >> those said been hit hardest by this recession has been the middle class proposal. that has been the focus of my career. that will continue to be my focus in the senate. it to be extended. here is why the tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires should not. economists will tell you that they usually put their money away. they do not spend it. 75% of our economy is consumer spending. the middle class does that. the wealthy put it away.
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$700 billion is an awful lot of money that we could use to jobs. the amount a task as that the wealthy are getting our disproportionate. we are talking about an average of $100,000 a person. it makes no sense. it is not all are nothing. you pick and choose your priorities. my priority is the middle-class. >> you have a minute to respond. >> we have very different visions for the future of our state. he was to raise taxes. this is the last thing we should be doing. he talked about $700 billion that somehow people owed the government. this is by raising taxes on people.
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we should be passing pro-growth jobs legislation to reduce health-care costs. we should be surely put out regulations that make sense. we need to make sure they are not burdens. we should get the debt and deficit under control by controlling spending. >> if elected, will you try to repeal the new health care reform of or start over? are there parts the you like to keep? >> the health care costs in this country are too high.
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now they are even higher. this legislation was a great opportunity to get control of costs. it tells all of our families, businesses, and it ensures that we have health care costs so that your people are uninsured. the legislation went in just the head their way. i visited six factories in the past few weeks ago i had a round table. the number one issue is the cost of health care. they are concerned about the uncertainty. we do not whaknow what is happening.
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if i'm elected, i will try to get health care down. we should find common ground. i know he has a lot of support from the trial lawyers. we need to give the lawyers under current -- lost it under control. these are sensible reforms we can do. >> i think it is irresponsible to say that when you like some others you will repeal the whole thing.
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congressman portman was in congress and in washington d.c. for 20 years. he had his chance to do something and he did nothing. now he wants to go back and repeal it and start all over again, even though he had that chance. it is far more responsible to take a look at what works in the bill and what does not. if you repeal this, you put insurance companies back in charge of your health care, exactly the wrong thing to be doing. today, if you have a prior medical condition, thank you to this law, they can deny you coverage anymore. now, if you want to get a mammogram, you do not have to have a code pay anymore. are there things we should improve in this bill? of course there are. there is no question in my mind that she -- that we should not be taxing health care benefits. we should have better physician reimbursements. those are things we can do. human it. you do not ended. if you kill it, it is irresponsible. >> our next question is from joe. >> john boehner threw a lot of hate at the democrats for suggesting that social security's long-term viability could be preserved with a few basic reforms, including means
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test and benefits and raising the retirement age for younger americans. do you think these ideas should be off the table? if so, what would you propose to ensure social security's long- term liability? >> i do support getting it out of the firing line on the floor of the senate and the house and getting it into a bipartisan commission where smart republicans and democrats who election can give it their best recommendation. i am ok with an up or down vote on that. at least that way, we will still get the best thinking. as long as this is a political football on the floor of the senate and the house, given the high for partisanship that makes me sick and disgusted and it does so for most americans, we will not get this solved. it is a sacred promise with the seniors of our country. there are ways we can solve
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this. one of the ways is to not raise -- raid the social security trust fund when he did when he was the budget director. >> we need to strengthen and preserve social security. i know it is getting close to halloween, but i would ask lt. gov. lee fisher to stop scaring seniors about social security. he gave a more reasoned answer tonight because he is not on the campaign trail. but when he talks to seniors, he says do not touch it. no one should be doing anything to attack social security benefits that senior citizens deserve and rely on. when lee fisher was talking to a group of seniors in cincinnati recently, he gave his scare talk about social security and demagogued on it appeared at the end of the conversation, one of the seniors asked all of -- what all of the seniors are asking. what is your solution? his answer? elect me. that isn't -- that is a political answer.
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>> thank you. our next question comes from tom try. >> mr. portman, given the direct threat posed by the taliban and al qaeda, is it was for the u.s. to withdraw troops from afghanistan as president obama plans to do beginning next year. >> tom, thank you for that question. there are additional concerns in europe about the terrorist threat. this war against terror continues. i hope your administration continues to view this as a war. because it is. president obama has supported and lee fisher has supported leaving afghanistan on an arbitrary date.
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the taliban and al qaeda will simply wait us out. this is what the people in afghanistan are saying, including president karzai. this is what the people are saying all around the world. america will not be able to protect them and us against terrorism. if we have an arbitrary deadline to withdraw, again, they will wait us out. afghanistan will again become a safe haven for terrorism. the potential is that it becomes a platform for another attack, like 9/11.
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we cannot allow that. again, as we look at the news today, we realize that the terror threat is real and make sure that we do not create that safe haven in afghanistan, for them to attack freedom-loving people in the world, including in america. >> there is no issue more important to any member of u.s. senate or congress that our responsibility as to whether or not to send young men into battle and to make sure that, when they are there, they were safe. these are not easy decisions and they should not be political. hopefully, they will not be. i just happen to believe that iraq was a misguided war. afghan -- afghanistan millicent's after 9/11. but we have taken our eye off the ball. as a result, i think it is time
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to bring our troops home. how to make something very clear. we never, never, never, never, give up the fight on terrorism. if we have learned anything since 2001, you cannot fight them with conventional warfare. if anything, we should step that up, but we should put less of our men and women in harm's way. >> thank you very much. i want to give our panelists a heads up that we are doing wonderfully on time. we will likely have the opportunity for two extra questions. >> mr. fisher, as you know, lake erie is critical to the economic and recreational vitality of the toledo area and the state as a whole. how would you advocate for swift action from the federal government to keep asian part out of the great lakes. >> first, i want to go back to something congressman portman said. he said he liked my answer, but his has not like the other answers. i will go back to my other
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ranchers because i don't to disappoint him. what i neglected to mention tonight and the people of ohio should know is that one of the most vocal proponents of privatizing social security is congressman portman. that means that seniors will be able to put some or all, hover much they want, of their social security into the stock market. which means, on thursday, the me make a lot of money. but on monday, they me be washed out. imagine what would have happened if congressman portman and president bush had privatize social security during this economic recession? it would have been a disaster. about asian carp, there is no greater resources america than the great lakes. i felt that the white house was not being tough enough in dealing with asian carp. they are literally eating other fish throughout the lakes. we have not close to the locks in chicago. we should do that immediately.
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the governor and i have been very clear to the obama's administration, that they have been too slow, and that they need to be focused on protecting lake erie. that is the most shallow the great lakes. we are the most in danger of them. first you let the men and then you spend all your energy in getting rid of them. >> thank you. >> this is a huge issue and it is a jobs issue. there is a $7.5 billion
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industry. it is that threat by the carp infestation. they have now discovered asian carp dna in the lake. in terms of the attack a moment ago, another partisan attack by my opponent, it is not accurate. i do not support privatization of social security. what i do support is strengthening social security for the future. i know that lt. gov. fisher would like to distract us from the fact that, in his tenure, we have lost 400,000 jobs. unemployment is one of the 10 worst in the country. i know he would like to distract us from the legislation he has supported, like a stronger government role in the
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government option. >> mr. fisher just mentioned the bipartisanship that group's congress. in this campaign, you have been harshly criticized for your ideas and proposals. you have been highly criticized by ohio's junior senator. considering that, if you went, how will you work with him, particularly given your fundamental differences on trade and job creation? >> that is an interesting question. senator brown is the other
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senator from ohio. i do not think we have not had a senator running for election that has not been partisan. i have talked with senator brown about this. i told him i look forward to working with tension and be elected to the united states senate. he has said that he looks forward to working with me should be elected. i spoke with george voinovich today. he is a guy who is looking to leave the united states senate. -- to lead the united states senate. i can defend each one of them as good, fiscally conservative pieces of legislation that helps to move our state for it. i will work with anybody, democrat, republican, independent, who wants to help me move ohio. the debt and deficit we have now is unfair to future
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generations. taxes are going up at year end on small businesses all over ohio, making it harder to create jobs. we see more burden with the deregulation. we have to give ohio employers more help. i will work with anybody who wants to work with me to help ohio and to help small business. >> thank you. >> i do believe it is very important that you work across the aisle and work with members of the other party, just as i did when i was in the state legislature. but i think is also important that you not be a rubber-stamp for your party, that you'll be able to stand up to your own party when they think they are wrong, as i have done many times in my career and many times even while president obama has been president.
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but watching congressman portman, i cannot tell you i have seen any time that he has departed from john boehner and the republican playbook. george voinovich, to his credit, stood his ground. he opposed the tax cuts to the wealthy billionaires' and millionaires and he supported a strong reasonable small business jobs bill that congressman portman opposed. being a rubber stamp for republicans. if you will be bipartisan, you will have to show it. >> thank you. >> does ohio's economy need another dose of stimulus money from washington? if so, what do you think might realistically pass? >> although that stimulus has held, it has not been enough. that is the bottom line.
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john mccain's economic advisor said that, without it, we would have lost another 8.5 million jobs. but the bottom line is that making progress is good, but it is not good enough. here's what i think we should do. number one, we should end the tax breaks that congressman portman supports to the large companies to ship jobs overseas. number two, we should have a new national jobs creation tax bill modeled after one that i have been using for the last four years in ohio that is a powerful incentive for businesses to create jobs right here in ohio. we should make the research and development tax credit permanent. it is ridiculous that it remained temporary. there has to be extended every couple of years. we are an innovative state and an innovative nation. finally, it is outrageous that we have bailed out the wall street banks but we have shortchanged the small businesses.
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the small businesses we see everywhere are 90% of our economy. they have not missed a single payment and cannot get a loan. that is why i have supported a $30 billion pool of money to go to community banks with requirements that they get that out the door to small businesses to help them survive and to grow. i do not care what you call it, whether it is a stimulus or anything else. i just want to make sure we create jobs and do it by giving incentives to create american jobs and ohio jobs and give incentives that encourage of shoring and outsourcing and shipping jobs overseas. -- encourage off shoring and outsourcing and shipping jobs overseas. >> he thinks the stimulus was
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not enough. that is what he just said. $800 billion -- over $1 trillion when you include the interest -- is not enough. this package was sold as taking unemployment below 8%. in ohio, is over 10%. this is the stimulus package and said it would create several jobs. ohio has lost almost 150,000 jobs since the stimulus package was signed into law. he wants more of the same. he was to put tax increases on u.s. companies at a time we're trying to climb out of this recession. that does not make sense for our workers. that would cost 17,000 more jobs in the state of ohio. the tax increases he is talking about -- we have already lost 400,000 jobs. we do not need to lose another
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17,000. >> mr. portman, you have been critical of the capt. trade energy bill in the house. what would you do to reduce u.s. dependence for an oil? >> is an exciting opportunity for ohio to take energy and converted to jobs. the cap and trade at what cost 100,000 jobs in ohio. that is a study by the american manufacturers. the alternative is developing nuclear power here in ohio, natural gas -- there is natural gas revenues ohio -- if we move forward with clean coal technology, with green technology, not just hydro, but also solar and wind, we can use some of the manufacturing capacity in ohio and create thousands and thousands of jobs. nuclear power, for example, there are several factors i have visited that make things for nuclear power. it is an opportunity for us to
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use the best work force in the world, which is ohio workers, and to take all that manufacturing capacity that we can use and create more jobs and opportunity here in ohio. that is the alternative. guess what, when you do that, you make us less dependent on foreign oil, which is also incredibly important to our national security and economic security. finally, it is a cleaner environment. you use nuclear power that is the emission-free. you use clean coal technology, which takes the co2 out of coal and makes coal cleaner burning. these are exciting opportunities for our state. if i'm elected to the unit said -- to the united states senate, i will be focusing on energy. check it out on our website.
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>> thank you. >> 53 years ago to the day, october 4, 1957, the russians sent something into space called sputnik. it was a reawakening in america that we were behind. we are behind today. the solar panels and the wind turbines are being made in china. not enough of them are being made in america. we're depending on countries that qaeda's and sometimes even want to kill us for our oil. -- that hate us and sometimes even want to kill us for our oil. we should gather around and say this is our time. this is a time to move toward a clean energy economy that works on solar and clean energy. we should teach your children not to rely on others. it is exciting. working with manufacturing
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companies in the last four years, we can absolutely do it. >> we have the bonus round now. we will ask more questions. >> mr. fisher, and if you win, one of your duties would be to vote on nominees to the supreme court. what criteria would you bring to judging a nominee? if you could quickly go through the four most recent nominations, would you have voted for chief justice roberts and chief justice alito? >> i have had the great honor of working for a federal judge, interestingly enough, a staunch republican judge who was appointed through the effort of ray bliss.
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i admired the fact that he hired me knowing that i was a staunch democrat. he taught me a lesson. the common that the law on to be blind to politics and ideology. first of all, i do not have a litmus test. i tried to gauge whether this person, when they put on that road, they understand that they have to become one of the most powerful people on earth that can affect what happens for generations to come. we have seen that with some of the seminal cases. i want to make sure they are bright. i want to make sure they have practical experience in life and not just purely in academia. and i think it is fair to say that we need a divorce court in every respect, in terms of
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gender, in terms of race, even in terms of the kinds of law schools they go to. i would have voted for it in medicaid and -- for elena kagan and justice sotomayor. for justice roberts and alito, i did not pay as much attention to their confirmation hearings to say that i would have voted against them. i do not have enough information. when you are senator, you listen to those hearings and you pay attention. i was running the center for families and children and did not see those hearings. i cannot tell you i would -- i am not sure what i would do in those cases. >> the senate does have a solemn responsibility and that is the confirmation of judges. i would only confirm the judges who had the judicial temperament and did not legislate from the bench.
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we are elected as legislators to be accountable to the people and judges have a lifetime appointment. george voinovich opposed elena kagan's nomination because she did not have experience. i think i would've done the same thing. i believe that her record, if there was one, she would have legislated from the bench. i hope that i am wrong and that she ends up being a better supreme court justice. >> thank you. the next question goes to rob portman. >> mr. portman, would you articulate your view on financial reform aimed at cleaning up wall street? would you want to repeal some of it? if so, why? >> i appreciate you asking that
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question. i have counted six inaccuracies in the partisan attacks. that is one of them. i am disappointed in what passed in the unisys congress on financial reform because it did not solve the problem. everyone knows that the housing market triggered the collapse of 2008. barack obama has said as much. yet this legislation does nothing to try to help on that issue. these two organizations, fannie mae and freddie mac, have backed up mortgages. they were not touched in this legislation. why? because the democrats on the committee are very close to fannie mae and freddie mac. by understanding is that the taxpayers has already spent $200 billion shoring of these entities and get there are no reforms in there at all. i think legislation did not go far enough in a certain regard with regard to how it dealt with wall street. the big wall street firms,
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including goldman sacks, were for the legislation. they are concerned about the new mandates, the new regulations, making it harder, not easier, to get credit. companies are having trouble getting credit in ohio. banks are finding more pressure from the regulations and the mandates. i made my payments on a regular basis. we have to be some plan going forward. we would like to expand. we 6 -- we could create more jobs here. but i can get a loan. creating jobs in ohio is making sure the community banks in ohio have the ability to make loans. buying the stock of banks is like a mini-tarp. that is a bad idea. >> thank you.
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>> i had a law school professor who once said it was better to have a fence at the top of a cliff then to have an ambulance below. wall street reform was critical. if we did not build that fence at the top of the cliff, we would be destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. as far as i know, all of the wall street firms are thrilled portman is one of those who want to repeal the reform. having a consumer financial agency that looks out for the consumer, everything ranging from credit card rates that are outrageous to the kinds of speculative derivatives trading that occurred when banks played with middle-class families money and lost it, almost as if it were some sort of gambling
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casino, that should never happen again. and congressman portman was one of those. by the way, democrats did, too. they voted for repeal in the glass-steagall act and said banks could go and start speculating. we need to go back to the point where they cannot. >> at this point, we have closing statements, two minutes for each gentleman to give their closing statement. rob portman, you go first. >> i want to thank the for your reporters here today. they are on the campaign trail with us a lot. they had good questions. thank you for the opportunity to talk directly with ohio voters. what i heard from lt. gov. lee fisher is that he is proud of his record at a time that we lost 400,000 jobs in ohio. he wants to have it both ways, i guess. he is proud of certain things that happened and the ones that are okay, he will take credit for them.
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the ones that or not, he will blame somebody else. i do not think that is the right record to take to washington. more important to me is what he voted on. i am running because i believe we're headed in the wrong direction. i think ohio is headed in the wrong direction and the country is headed in the wrong direction. we need some fresh ideas. again, check out our jobs plan at our great state and the workers of ohio deserve it. i was born and raised in this state. jane and i raised three kids here. i want to make sure that ohio can get back on track. we can do it. this is a great state with innovators and inventors and entrepreneurs.
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but we need the climate for success. that is why i am running for and it's it's senate. i ask for your vote tonight and i expect to see you on the campaign trail. >> thank you, mr. korman. mr. fisher, two minutes. >> rob and i both have our wives to tonight. i want to thank all of you for giving us this great opportunity. we have had a lot of facts and figures tonight. i think going to take a different a poet -- different approach in my remaining minute. it is a story. i got a call from the mayor of norwalk, ohio. she said, i do not know what to do. the bank is about to close down norwalk -- i spent the day meeting with the mayor and the community and business leaders. we convinced the bank to back off, to reconsider and give the company second chance. we gave it the great company a loan and some people in the community stepped up and more than matched that loan. we save the company and save
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many of the jobs. one of the jobs we saved was a woman whose husband was in an auto accident and had been in a coma for several years. during those years, the only thing that kept her going, her anchor, her lifeline, was that job. i have learned that a job is much more than a paycheck. it is about hope and dignity and purpose in someone's life. i am proud of the work we have done at cooper tire, the work we have done at norwalk furniture, at schindler elevator, at goodyear, a bridgestone tire store, alcohol, and many more. am i satisfied? of course not.
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i'm not satisfied because there is no governor or lieutenant governor, democrat or republican who will be able to do it. the governor of indiana has said there is something beyond the control of governors of lieutenant governors that can only be fixed in that broke a place called washington, d.c. >> thank you, mr. fisher. that is our debate tonight. thank you for being with us tonight. thank you to you all at home for watching. we have a special thank you to all of our panelists tonight. thank you also to the ono for sponsoring this debate. thank you to c-span for bringing it to you. it to you.


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